Author Topic: Case study: How to survive job hunting (when I'm already poor)?  (Read 5034 times)

Urikohime

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Hello all. I'm hoping you can help me straighten out the tangle of my life a bit.

I was a teacher. My boss told me I was in danger of being fired for "political" reasons. I was already miserable, so decided to quit. I apparently vastly overestimated my marketablity-- I'm still looking for a job, more than a year later.

Income: Because I quit, I haven't even been getting Unemployment. I had about $10,000 in the bank, to start.  My ex pays $1,280/m in child support. I have been taking as many random babysitting/childcare type gigs as I can, but this varies greatly.

Expenses: $1,150 mortgage
                                   30 car insurance
                                   52 internet
                                   50 water
                                   20 to 220 electricity ($50 avg.)
                                   80 phone
                                   40 to 100 gas
                                 300 groceries

This adds up to about $1,682/m.

We (I have 2 school age kids) also spend on entertainment, clothes, etc., but not that much. We're a cheap entertainment, wear it till it falls apart kind of family. Our other BIG expense is the family dog. She's already cost me over $2,000 in the first half of 2014 (food, vet, supplies, etc.). We also have a community pool membership ($354/yr).

Assets: Bought my 2009 car with cash. Also, I guess it's sort of an asset that ex pays the kids' medical insurance. That's it.

Liabilities: Except for my mortgage, I am debt free!

Question: Ugh. Where do I start?

As I mentioned, I'm not getting Unemployment. I'm also not getting any other government aid ("Welfare"). I haven't applied because I don't like the thought of taking a handout when I don't really need it (but it's coming to that point).

I also am leery of accepting government aid because I don't want them looking over my shoulder and deciding what job I should take. For example, both my kids have High-functioning Autism, and they have much better days if they don't have to go to early care before school. So, I'd try to avoid taking jobs that start before they're off to school. But, I've had a complete lack of luck in my job search, so this hasn't been an issue!

There are several kinds of credentials I could get to help me in my job search, but-- they all take time, and money I don't have. Also, I'm totally NOT excited about getting another teaching job. I sort of fell into it when I had kids. Pre-kids, I divided my time working for a college theatre and a community tv station. That's what I love, but my contacts and my tech skills are 15 years out of date!

I'm also considering going back to school next fall (2015) and trying to start earning a more marketable degree in a different field-- like Speech Pathology, for instance. Plenty of need for that!

Except for babysitting, I don't have any "home business" type skills. I used to run a home daycare, but now I have a tiny house, a giant dog, and not much desire to have that job again.

I'm low on money and self-esteem! Can someone advise me what to do? Thank you.








Nudelkopf

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Re: Case study: How to survive job hunting (when I'm already poor)?
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2014, 02:14:20 AM »
Except for babysitting, I don't have any "home business" type skills. I used to run a home daycare, but now I have a tiny house, a giant dog, and not much desire to have that job again.
What about tutoring? People seem to like to pay teachers a lot of money to do outside of school what their child should be doing inside of school.

Ybserp

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Re: Case study: How to survive job hunting (when I'm already poor)?
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2014, 05:12:41 AM »
It sounds like the root issue is not being fully employed. The 20/20 hindsight thing (for if you ever find yourself in a similar situation in the future) is to get a new job offer before putting in notice, but it's too late for that now.

If your savings totally run out, you have a few options I'd consider pretty drastic. Give up the dog. Call up the ex and ask for more money. Sell the house and get a cheaper place so you could live on only the child support check. I don't actually recommend the drastic options now. But you have them in case you really, really need them.

You may be eligible for government or local financial assistance. I see you saying you don't want to go for that, but if I were in your shoes I would. When I was growing up, my parents were eligible for food stamps and eventually signed up for them and used them for about six months. It really helped. And when they were doing better again, they made a point to donate to local food pantries to "pay back" the charity we'd received. Government support can be a help when you need it instead of a long-term handout lifestyle if you choose to use it appropriately.

Good luck with your continued job search.

lakemom

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Re: Case study: How to survive job hunting (when I'm already poor)?
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2014, 05:23:42 AM »
You don't say where you live or what types of jobs you've been looking into but here goes.....

Tutoring (I'm thinking specifically at one of the chains that are out there but in your or the student's home would work too)
Kitchen staff in your local school system (your schedule should mirror your children's)
Admininstrative staff (read secretary) for in your local school system
Check into work at local YMCA's (all in our areas have both babysitting for memeber while they work our AND before/after care programs at each of the local elementaries)

None of these jobs are very well paid (mainly minimum wage or slightly more) BUT would get you over the hump financially while remaining family friendly.  Also as you children get older the need for before/after care will disappear giving you more flexibility in finding work.

Have you looked into any career counseling (there are all kinds of free programs out there)?  Maybe you just need some fresh perspective on your skill set and ways to apply them to the workforce.

Janie

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Re: Case study: How to survive job hunting (when I'm already poor)?
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2014, 05:47:21 AM »
How about substitute teaching? Not only for income but to get a foot in the door for a permanent position. If you're interested in switching fields you're better off doing that while employed.

pipercat

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Re: Case study: How to survive job hunting (when I'm already poor)?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2014, 06:02:52 AM »
If your kids' diagnoses are well documented, they may qualify for SSI.  Definitely look into that.  I second the substitute teaching idea.  Can you just get on the sub list at your kids' school?  That way, no before school care will be needed.


TeresaB

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Re: Case study: How to survive job hunting (when I'm already poor)?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2014, 06:52:09 AM »
Hard for me to see where you could cut your expenses in a helpful way. I mean, I could tell you to get rid of the internet, but you'd still be spending more than you're taking home, know what I mean? So I think the solution is to think outside the box and find a job. (I know, I know, easier said than done.) The plus here is that because of child support, you're actually not in need of that much money--a part time job would be enough to keep you guys afloat.

That said, I'm going to be blunt--you have kids. This is the time to get a job that pays, not a job you like, especially if you don't want government aid (which is totally your choice as long as you can stay alive without it). Work at McDonald's or as a bagger at the local grocery store if you have to.

Can you get a job as a nanny or babysitter for other kids with autism? The fact that you have a lot of experience should work in your favor. Try  care.com . They have a whole "special needs" subcategory.

I second (or third?) the tutoring recommendation. This is another thing where advantage with kids on the spectrum could be a huge plus. Someone said it's minimum wage, but depending on how often you teach and where, you can actually make some pretty serious money. My mother used to work for a center and she made $25/hour. I made $12.50/hour at the same center in high school! My mother had a master's degree and was ABD, so presumably a certified teacher without a master's would make somewhere in between those two. (The disadvantage of centers is that you're basically always working after school. But it sounds like your kids are ok with aftercare?)

This is a little out there, and may not be feasible depending on where you are, but there are autism therapy groups that will take people with experience but no degree. These are mostly ABA or Floortime kind of jobs, IME, so if that doesn't line up with your particular philosophy, that might not work out so well.

You could also try being a paraprofessional/classroom aide. Teaching-related, but not teaching. I would think having been a teacher would be helpful here as you would know what kind of things disrupt the classroom from the teacher's point of view.

Library work? Some libraries have part-time jobs for which you don't need any credentials.

As a very short-term thing: Do you have anything around your house that no one uses that you could sell on Ebay or Craigslist? Textbooks? Kitchen appliances? Furniture?

Good luck!

CommonCents

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Re: Case study: How to survive job hunting (when I'm already poor)?
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2014, 07:48:10 AM »
My MIL makes $90/hr tutoring.  Granted, that's in an area that prioritizes education (it's top 5 district in MA, which itself has good schools).  Apparently it was pretty easy to get clients when her kids were in school and rocking their grades.  Harder now that they are all grown but as she's 65+, she's happy with those she has now.

You have kids.
You don't want to take support from the government.
Thus, you need a job, any job at all.  You need to work it until you can find the job you want.  Work as a waitress, barista, grocery store clerk, etc. 
I get that you want to be home with the kids before school, but again, it's more important to pay your bills to feed, house, and clothe your kids than to be home with them.  So you either need to cut to the bone (thrift shop clothes, pick them up from school on a bike, etc.) or you need to accept a job outside those hours.

(Obviously in the future, let them fire you to collect unemployment and give you more time to job hunt.  Maybe talk to a lawyer about whether you'd have a claim for constructive firing based on telling you that you'd be fire.)

frugaliknowit

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Re: Case study: How to survive job hunting (when I'm already poor)?
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2014, 08:50:36 AM »
Sorry about your situation.  For what it's worth, I was a limo driver as a survival job at one time.  I believe that business has gone downhill (in terms of what you earn).  The point is find some kind of survival job while planning a new career.

Also:  Take any aid you can get.  Don't be proud, that's what aid is for.  You can pay it forward as others have said.

Doomspark

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Re: Case study: How to survive job hunting (when I'm already poor)?
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2014, 09:12:02 AM »
You've obviously got a good grasp of English - try registering on Fiverr.com to do proofreading.   If you go this route, scan the existing gigs to get a feel for what other people are charging for the same type of work.  It's not necessarily steady work, but every little bit can help. Plus proofreading is something you can do when it's most convenient for you.

If you're in a college town, go down to the college and put up flyers for proofreading on campus.  You could also reach out to the local schools and offer a proofreading service to high-school and junior-high kids working on papers for classes.

Numbers Man

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Re: Case study: How to survive job hunting (when I'm already poor)?
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2014, 09:38:55 AM »
Get a job at a temporary agency working as a "temp". You'll have a chance to be placed in many different environments and acquire new skills. It will pay the bills and might give you a new perspective of what you want to do in the working world.

Urikohime

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Re: Case study: How to survive job hunting (when I'm already poor)?
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2014, 01:16:16 PM »
Thank you so much, everyone who took the time to reply.

I am actually an experienced tutor. I signed up for a few registries, but haven't gotten any work so far. I have been told that the market is small, and saturated, in my working class area, and that I live too far away from the wealthier areas for them to risk hiring me (I live in a large urban area, and it would take about an hour's drive, if traffic cooperates).

I have put off trying to get on the substitute teaching roster because our district is bizarrely huge-- again, I might be commuting more than an hour each way to get to work. I'd need to put the kids in early AND aftercare.

I'm certainly not expecting to get my dream job-- I was just hoping! Believe me, my kids come first. This weekend I'm going to apply for aid, and put in an application at the grocery store down the street.

Thank you for helping me get my head on straight (and more advice is so welcome)!

theonethatgotaway

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Re: Case study: How to survive job hunting (when I'm already poor)?
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2014, 01:27:04 PM »
Online tutoring?

Do you have any other skills besides teaching? What about house cleaning?

Sign up and be a driver for uber this week. That way you have immediate income and you do it in your schedule around the kids. Large urban area? Bingo.

Michael792

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Re: Case study: How to survive job hunting (when I'm already poor)?
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2014, 06:08:13 PM »
When I lost a job I did day labor or got into fast food. It's not easy or fun, but there's generally at least something steady coming your way. Pair that with some side hustles and you'll make it till you find a good job. I'd reduce spending. The only thing I see that I feel comfortable saying is to cut out the pool.

Janie

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Re: Case study: How to survive job hunting (when I'm already poor)?
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2014, 06:15:50 PM »
preschool teaching? there are often half-day programs. dog walking? pet sitting? cleaning?